Legalization of Cannabis

On Wednesday, October 17, Cannabis became legal in Canada for adults to possess, grow and consume recreational cannabis. The Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario have established laws in respect to the use, possession and sale of recreational cannabis. In Ontario, the minimum legal age for consumption and possession is 19, and it is legal to consume cannabis where smoking tobacco is allowed, subject to certain exceptions.

In Ottawa, municipal by-laws prohibit smoking and vaping of cannabis products on City property, such as City parks, arenas, recreational centers, libraries, pools, transit stations and buses. Provincial legislation also prohibits the smoking and vaping of cannabis where the smoking and vaping of tobacco is prohibited.

In addition, similar to alcohol, provincial legislation prohibits the consumption of cannabis in a vehicle or boat, and requires that any cannabis in a vehicle or boat be unopened, in its original packaging, or not be readily available to any person.

Buying and selling

The only legal way to acquire recreational cannabis in Ontario is online, through the Ontario Cannabis Store. Cannabis for recreational uses will be sold through authorized cannabis retailers, beginning April 1, 2019. Until then, cannabis retailers or dispensaries remain illegal and are subject to enforcement. The Province has determined that all retailers will be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Cannabis and your health

It’s important to know how cannabis affects you and to consider ways to consume it responsibly. Information on the health effects of cannabis is available at

Impaired driving

The Ottawa Police Service remains committed to public safety, with a significant focus on impaired driving. The Ottawa Police Service has 28 trained drug recognition experts and more than 270 trained standardized field sobriety test officers, who will detect impairment by alcohol, prescription and non-prescription drugs. With the legalization of cannabis, targeted enforcement, including RIDEs, screen drivers for impairment. Learn more about impaired driving at

For more information on the impacts of cannabis legalization in Ottawa, please visit and For information on the legal framework for recreational cannabis, please visit the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.  Access to cannabis for medical use will continue to be regulated by the Government of Canada under the rules that were in place prior to October 17.